A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Toca House is a safe collection of housekeeping mini-games for preschoolers. Like all of Toca Boca's products, Toca House is designed as a digital toy rather than a game, so it encourages exploration over achievement. Kids swipe to move up and down levels of the house and assist the diverse, funky characters with chores. Kids tap, drag, and swipe to complete tasks such as ironing clothes, putting away groceries, mopping floors, and sorting mail. Kids receive only subtle feedback during tasks, but are greeted by a triumphant and colorful display when they finish each chore.
What's it about?
Kids swipe up or down to select a room to play in and tap on the character there. Kids will then swipe, drag, or tap objects to complete one of 19 mini-games. Many of the games involve sorting by color and shape or matching like things, such as sorting leaves into piles. Dragging a broom or mop around the screen to clean up is another popular chore. The characters typically make disgruntled noises and facial expressions for negative feedback. When a task is completed, the character appears amid a trumpet call and a streaming rainbow backdrop.
Is it any good?
Toca House is a quirky and imaginative tool to help kids develop positive and playful associations with chores and housekeeping. The lack of direction or narrative may leave some kids feeling disengaged or confused, and the designers provide parents with suggestions to help them make connections between the game and the real world.
The repetition of skills such as sorting in different puzzles helps develop and reinforce learning, though sweeping on every floor can get tiresome. Some floors also present the same games in quick succession, so parents should be sure to show kids how to swipe to different levels of the house. The subtle visual cues are realistic and fun -- for example, the expectant recipient of a gift tracks the gift with their eyes as you move it around the screen. Overall, Toca House is creative and interesting, but not quite as engaging as Toca's typical toys.
Talk to your kids about ...
Model gameplay and, while playing, name the activities to build vocabulary and make connections between chores in Toca House and your own house.
Emphasize the collaborative nature of housework, with the characters dividing up tasks, taking turns, and working with you to complete their chores.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Subjects: Hobbies: gardening
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation
Self-Direction: work to achieve goals
Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles
- Price: $1.99
- Release date: April 17, 2012
- Category: Educational Games
- Size: 25.20 MB
- Publisher: Toca Boca
- Version: 1.0.3
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 4.2 or later
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